Author | Charles A. Dackis, MD


The Neurobiology of Cocaine Dependence and Its Clinical Implications

March 01, 2007


Cocaine dependence is a devastating disorder that is associated with a host of medical and psychosocial risks. This complex disorder is made up of distinct clinical components that are interwoven into a cycle of addiction (Figure 1). Cocaine activates ancient pleasure centers that dominate our thoughts, behaviors, and priorities, producing a pleasure-reinforced compulsion to use the drug. Repeated use dysregulates brain pleasure centers and paves the way to addiction through craving and impaired hedonic function.1 Euphoria and craving drive the cycle of addiction through positive and negative reinforcement, respectively, and they provide targets for pharmacological interventions.